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[SLUG] Re: Copyright assignment + the GPL [Was: Streaming media servers]
- To: slug@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Subject: [SLUG] Re: Copyright assignment + the GPL [Was: Streaming media servers]
- From: QuantumG <qg@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2005 11:49:09 +1000
- User-agent: Mozilla Thunderbird 1.0 (Windows/20041206)
Jeff Waugh wrote:
I understand why this perspective has currency, but I disagree with it quite
strongly. The code is available under the GPL, the community has full GPL
rights, and you have a single copyright owner who is prepared to defend the
software and aggressively develop/improve the software because they have an
important investment in it.
Well the point of the GPL (over a BSD-like license) is to ensure that
the source code for all distributed changes are available and are freely
distributable. So yes, although your specific changes are available to
the community, all the changes that the new copyright owner distributes
under a proprietary license are not. You might be ok with this, but I
think it's just paying lip service to the GPL without actually accepting
the concept of software freedom.
As you put forward a number of bad situations that can arise from this,
allow me to set up my nightmare scenario for you.
1. You contribute a significant amount of work to Helix (like a new
2. RealNetworks demands a copyright assignment.
3. They put it into both the open source and proprietary distributions.
4. They sell their proprietary distribution to customers.
5. A customer finds a bug, wants a feature extension, etc.
6. RealNetworks adds fixes the bug, or makes the feature extension
in the proprietary distribution only.
That bug or feature extension is not free. It is a proprietary
extension of copylefted code. That's crazy. It's this kind of nonsense
that specifically inspired the creation of copyleft licenses, but the
license does not apply to the copyright holder, so the community
suffers. Now maybe you have no respect for copyleft licenses (it's ok
to say so, I know a lot of BSD developers who don't) but if you do
surely you've got to recognise that this is a travesty.
To me, choosing the BSD over the GPL is deliberately saying "proprietary
forks of this software are ok by me". That's cool if that's what you
want to do (I work on a project that specifically does this). But
choosing the GPL over the BSD is deliberately saying that they are not
ok, and I don't see why an exception for one proprietary fork (that made
by the copyright holder) is ok.